Around the Rim: Finally time to smile


1. Suns start climbing out of their hole
It took four games and over a week of playoff basketball, but the Suns finally grabbed their first victory of the postseason. After getting pummeled in Game 3, Phoenix returned the favor on Sunday, spanking San Antonio by 19 points, 105-86, leading the entire contest. Raja Bell scored a game-high 27 points and Boris Diaw was a pair of assists shy of recording a triple-double, posting 20 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in place of Grant Hill who didn’t play. Amare Stoudemire was off target all game, connecting on only 3-of-11 shots for seven points and Steve Nash recorded a mere four assists, but the Suns were still able to build leads that reached 32 points. Tony Parker was the Spurs biggest scorer, tallying 18 points after posting a playoff career-high of 41 points in Game 3. San Antonio must now wait until Tuesday for another chance to close out the series at home.

2. Last second heartbreak in Washington

The Wizards hung tough for 47 minutes and 44 seconds, but then Delonte West delivered the dagger. With 5.4 seconds left in a tie game, West gave LeBron James a break and hit the game-winning 3-pointer to give Cleveland a 100-97 victory and a 3-1 lead in the series. James was on fire once again, posting 34 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists to go with a blow to the head from DeShawn Stevenson. Stevenson smacked LBJ toward the end of the opening half and it looked like fists would fly between the two momentarily, but cooler heads prevailed. However, Stevenson could be in for some repercussions after the league reviews the flagrant foul. It’s been a physical series thus far and Wednesday’s Game 4 should be no different even if Stevenson can’t suit up.

3. Up and down, up and down
After dropping Game 1 at home and Game 3 in Philly, the Pistons tied up their series against the 76ers by taking a 93-84 win on the road. Tayshaun Prince led Detroit with 23 points, backed by Rasheed Wallace’s 20-point, 10-assist double-double while Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups posted 18 points and seven assists apiece. The Pistons struggled against their seventh-seeded opponents again in the first half, but they bounced back after the break, outscoring Philly 34-16 in the third quarter to go from 10 down to eight up. The Sixers finished with six players in double-figures on offense; unfortunately, Thaddeus Young led the squad with a measly 15 points. Andre Iguodala raised his series average to 10.5 points per game by posting 12 on Sunday in yet another pathetic playoff performance.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: LeBron James @ Washington 44 min, 34 pts (FG: 11-25, 3FG: 3-8, FT: 9-14), 12 reb, 7 ast, 2 stl

Buzzer Beater: Dallas desperately needed to win Game 4 against New Orleans to gain some momentum to climb out of a 0-2 hole. No such luck. David West led Nawlins with 24 points and nine rebounds while Peja Stojakovic scored 19 and Chris Paul appeared to actually be human with 16 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in the 97-84 win. The Hornets now have a strangle hold on the series, leading 3-1 with Game 4 coming on Tuesday evening in the Hive. Dallas is spiraling out of control as a franchise quickly. The first home loss to New Orleans since January of 1998 is only the tip of the Mavericks problems. Josh Howard went 3-of-16 from the field after calling half the league potheads and admitting to getting stoned in the offseason. American Airlines Arena was devoid of virtually all fans for over half of the final period. The city is beginning to call for the head of Avery Johnson and the team has quite possibly literally lost their testicles since planning a parade when they went up 2-0 on Miami in the Finals two years ago. Hope you enjoyed it while it lasted Big D because at this rate people will be wearing grocery sacks over their heads to the games once again. Ah, the good ol’ days.

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